Property of the Month – Royal Malewane

This month we’d like to congratulate our friends and colleagues at the Royal Portfolio for a real shining star in a world-class collection of properties.

Presenting our Property of the Month – the Royal Portfolio’s, Royal Malewane.

This video says it all – but just in case you need more reason to visit this sensational property… read on for more.

On a private game reserve bordering the Kruger National Park lies the conquering queen of African luxury experiences. This Royal majesty is set against the silhouetted back drop of the towering Drakensberg Mountains. Yet despite this awe inspiring setting it is the Royal Malewane’s lavish attention to detail in every aspect which belies belief and which has earned this regal property its plethora of “World’s Best” awards over the past decade.

Luxury beyond compare

The Royal Malewane reserve is set in the Mpumulanga lowveld and is well-known for its consistently incredible game viewing. Royal Malewane is the undoubted icon of extravagant safari destinations and offers its guests every modern-day comfort and convenience while at the same time embracing the wild heart of Africa. Royal Malewane prides itself in sharing an exclusive safari experience beyond compare with its heightened attentiveness to ultimate privacy, personalised hospitality and incredible wildlife sightings. The inclusion of the Royal Malewane Bush Spa, world-renowned for its striking setting and oasis of treatments, crowns the safari and all round experience with sheer indulgent pleasure.

Royal Malewane hosts a maximum of 20 guests insuring a continuously intimate experience. There is an option of either one of six luxury suites for couples, or for even more privacy and seclusion, one of two four-sleeper Royal Suites.

The air-conditioned luxury suites are an opulent hideaway from the heat of the bushveld yet display unparalleled views of wild spaces beyond. Each suite is generously spacious with a private outside wooden deck and rim-flow pool.   If you are in luck, a small herd of elephant might drink even from the pool waters as you take an afternoon plunge. Classic mahogany furnishings compliment the refined extravaganza of Persian carpets and canopied king-size bed while indoor and outdoor showers leave you rejuvenated and refreshed.

The Royal suites exemplify the definition of style and splendour. An enormous outside deck and sparkling pool give even four guests the freedom to cherish their solitude, and the inside living areas tell stories of colonial times gone by through treasured antiques and over-sized chandeliers.

Both the Luxury suites and the Royal suites speak to guests seeking a high-end luxury retreat.

The Royal assault on our senses

World beating game viewing

Royal Malewane holds the secret ingredients for enchanting all your senses. The spectacular close encounters with unbelievable wildlife on dawn and dusk game drives create unforgettable memories and countless photographs to look back on. Lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino, to name but a few, are enthusiastically pursued by the passionate guide and tracker team. What’s more if viewing the highly endangered Black Rhino is on your wish list then there is no better place than Royal Malewane to get a glimpse of this exceptionally rare animal.

Homely indulgent cuisine

The dining experience at Royal Malewane is a signatory feature. Let your imagination run wild while savouring delectable dishes under the stars in the boma or by candle-light in the Bedouin tent. Service is of a premium standard and you are lovingly serenaded whether it is by the night’s natural chorus or the hum of traditional song and dance.

Royal Malewane

Africa’s crystal clean ambiance

Inhale the gentle tannins and rich forest-floor aromas wafting out of a goblet of Merlot or take a relaxing amble along the elevated walkways in search of a commonly-found Mopane Tree. The kidney-shaped pods release a fragrance of rich raw honey and the butterly leaves make for unusual bookmarks.

Royal Malewane’s activities

Royal Malewane offers an exciting assortment of additional luxurious activities from helicopter flights and hot air balloon rides to a round of golf on the exclusive Leopard Creek Championship Golf Estate. But for those in need of relaxation and tranquillity, Royal Malewane’s Bush Spa is dedicated to timeless languor.

Iconic Africa Bush Diaries Episode #15 by James Hendry

Presenting Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #15 “Warm winter arrives,” filmed by James Hendry of Safarilive.

Watch as as the hippos wallow, the warthogs dart through the savannah, the kudus congregate, the elephants rumble, the leopards laze in the sun and the lion  strolls through the long grass.

Just in case you missed last month’s episode, #14 “Autumnal Kruger,” also filmed by @jamesrahendry of #safarilive click here to view.

Watch as the wild dogs play, the elephants drink at the waterhole, the buffalos graze lazily, the leopard relaxes in a tree and the lion calls at dusk. Transport yourself away for just a moment to the peace and beauty of the exquisite African bush-veld… need we say more!

We hope that these clips transport you back to Africa in a heartbeat and that they fill you with the warmth, beauty and spirit of this exquisite continent.  #Africa #bigfive #luxury #wildlife #safari

Click here to learn more about James Hendry, the safari guide in our interview with him.

Safari Pricing Explained

We are often asked how much safaris cost. This is because it is extremely hard to find prices for safaris online, and because there is an incredibly vast range of safari tours available—each type of safari tour obviously has its own associated costs, depending on the travel agent that you use.

Iconic Africa showcases the African destinations which best represent our values of the utmost luxury, world-beating African hospitality, delectable contemporary cuisine and most importantly an authentic commitment to wilderness conservation.

We aim to give you the most comprehensive quotations by detailing all of the expenses that you will incur during your safari adventure. We pride ourselves on the fact that our quotations have no hidden costs and no hidden surprises. Here’s what you need to know about safari costs.

Good safaris are expensive, however, you truly get what you pay for. We cater for mid- to high-end, boutique safaris which means our focus is on luxury, excellent service, and unforgettable safari experiences. It is important to remember that Africa is a huge continent. Great distances need to be covered by either cars, airplanes, or both. Therefore travel costs often make up a large portion of your safari expenses.

Because we cater for mid- to high-end safaris, the lodges that we choose are only the best of the best. Guests can expect a large staff complement at all lodges—in fact, the staff-to-guest ratio at most of the lodges that we recommend is a 3:1 ratio. This is to ensure that our clients are treated like absolute royalty. Of course, excellent accommodation and gourmet meals are world-class too. The lodges that we have on offer pride themselves on exclusivity and, of course, fewer visitors means fewer vehicles, which ultimately means a more exceptional and much more intimate wildlife experience for you.

We specialise in tailor-made safaris which ensures that our clients are not limited to pre-set itineraries or specific dates. Our clients can choose their own accommodation and they can indicate which activities they would like to experience on their safari. Our clients tell us what they want the focus to be on (for example, game viewing, birds, cats, relaxation, romance etc.), and we make sure that their expectations are not only met but exceeded. Read more in our Iconic Africa Promise

Our itineraries are perfectly planned out and drafted with each, individual client in mind. They are highly intricate and specific, so you will never be met with nasty shocks or unpleasant surprises. They contain comprehensive information about where, when, and with whom you should meet, and we set up the itineraries in such a way so that they are easy to read and the important information is easy to find. The itineraries also indicate where any costs are not covered by travel agency costs or accommodation costs.

So, what do we include in your quotation? Our quotations include all of your internal flights with specific details about each flight—such as when and where to meet, and who will pick you up to take you to and from the various airports. We also include details about all of your transfers, and all of your vehicles costs will be included. The quotation includes your day tours with specific details, and rental costs for rental cars and accommodation costs are also included in the quote.

For any other queries on costing please do let us know.

Month on Instagram

“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up & was not happy.” Ernest Hemingway.

To say that a visit to Africa is enchanting is an understatement… it’s something that cannot be fully expressed with words or with film but that can only truly be recorded by memory.  Just in case you missed them on Instagram, here are just a few of our most recent memories in our #monthonInstagram:

 

 

 

 

4 Royal Itineraries

For many years, we have enjoyed a great relationship with the highly respected Biden family and their beloved Royal Portfolio.

We’d like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to the team on their latest award, the “We Are Africa Design Africa Award 2017,” an outstanding accolade. Well done!

With an incredible collection of outstanding properties, magical spaces and unforgettable experiences it’s difficult to choose just one… so the team have put together some bespoke combinations just for you. The below itineraries really are fit for royalty so we have no doubt that you will be blown away by any one of them:

The Royal Itinerary

The Silo Hotel – 3 nights

La Residence – 2 nights

Birkenhead House – 2 nights

Royal Malewane – 3 nights

From USD 7777 | GBP 6000 | ZAR 105 000

South African Odyssey

Royal Malewane – 4 nights

The Silo Hotel – 3 nights

La Residence – 2 nights

From USD 8550 | GBP 6600 | ZAR 115 500

Classic Explorer

The Silo Hotel – 4 nights

Royal Malewane – 4 nights

From USD 8550 | GBP 6600 | ZAR 115 500

The Silo Cape Town Hotel View Dining Deck

The Fair Cape

The Silo Hotel – 3 nights

La Residence – 2 nights

Birkenhead House – 2 nightsFrom USD 2800 | GBP 2150 | ZAR 37 500

Please do give us a call if you need help choosing one of the above or need more information on any of these incredible itineraries.

 

Iconic Africa Bush Diaries Episode #14 by James Hendry

Presenting Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #14 “Autumnal Kruger,” filmed by James Hendry of Safarilive.
Watch as the wild dogs play, the elephants drink at the waterhole, the buffalos graze lazily, the leopard relaxes in a tree and the lion calls at dusk. Transport yourself away for just a moment to the peace and beauty of the exquisite African bush-veld… need we say more!

Just in case you missed last month’s episode, #13 “The End of Summer,” also filmed by @jamesrahendry of #safarilive click here to view.

Watch as the zebras graze, the lion cubs romp, the elephants browse, the leopards survey the land and the hyenas nurture and cuddle their cubs.

We hope that these clips give you a touch of Africa and that they warm your heart and make you smile wherever in the world they find you! #Africa #bigfive #luxury #wildlife #safari

Click here to learn more about James Hendry the safari guide in our interview with him.

10 Reasons to Holiday in South Africa

South Africa is different from other countries because it is a place where all holidaymakers can have fun—it absolutely has something special for everyone. If you’re looking for an escape into the wild, South Africa has some of the best game reserves in the world, and they are utterly bursting at the seams with wildlife. If you love sun, sand, and waves, you can visit one of the many spectacularly picturesque beaches along South Africa’s coastline. We believe that the expression ‘white sandy beach’ must have been coined whilst someone was lying on one of South Africa’s gorgeous beaches. South Africa is also home to some of the finest wines on the planet—be sure to book a tour of the Cape winelands if you’re a wine enthusiast or expert. If you love shopping and bustling cities, South Africa has those too! And the good news (as if you needed any more reasons to stay in South Africa)? South Africa has completely unrivalled luxury accommodation for guests to stay at while they soak in all of the wonders of South Africa. Here are our top ten reasons to holiday in South Africa.

  1. Affordability

At the top of our list of reasons to holiday in South Africa is, of course, affordability. Who wouldn’t want a luxury holiday at an affordable price? The excellent exchange rate makes South Africa one of the most affordable holiday destinations in the world. This means that you can literally ‘shop-till-you-drop’. You can spoil yourself, and your friends and family, during your stay in South Africa.

  1. Wildlife

When one thinks of South Africa, one thinks of safari adventures. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit if you’re planning a safari escape. From private and exclusive game reserves, to enormous game parks, South Africa has everything you need to enjoy a true African getaway. Most people know that South Africa is home to the Big Five, but what they might not know is that South Africa is also home to the Marine Big Five. You simply cannot visit this exquisite country without visiting the African bushveld. The wide-open spaces, lush vegetation, endless savannahs, big blue skies and breath-taking sunsets are there… just waiting for you. Not to mention the plethora of exquisite game just waiting to cross the path in front of you and once again… leave you breathless.

  1. Birdwatching

South Africa is most certainly a bird-watcher’s paradise. South Africa, alone, is home to approximately one tenth of the world’s bird population. The Kruger National Park is possibly the best place to visit if bird-watching is your passion. The Kruger Park is home to the elusive Ground Hornbill, Pel’s Fishing Owl and many other rare species that all bird watchers dream of spotting. One mustn’t forget the delightful penguins to be found in Simon’s Town in the Western Cape.

  1. Beaches

South Africa literally has hundreds of beaches. The best beaches can be found in Durban and Cape Town. If you love sunbathing and sunset picnics try one of Clifton’s four flawless beaches found at the base of Lion’s Head or Camps Bay at the foot of the impressive Twelve Apostles… and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

  1. Table Mountain

Table Mountain is South Africa’s pride and joy. It is something that is not to be missed. Visitors can either catch a cable-car to the top of the mountain or they can hike to the top, if they are feeling up to it, to enjoy a proper sense of the vastness of the mountain. You will be sure to spot plenty of birds and small animals, and you can enjoy the distinct smell of the lovely Fynbos (plants) that surrounds the area.

  1. Food and Wine

South Africa is certainly one of the wine capitals of the world. The Cape Winelands are a must see, but South Africa also offers its visitors lavish restaurants with the most delicious food. In fact, The Test Kitchen, at the Biscuit Mill in Cape Town, was actually voted one of the best restaurants in the world. Other award-winning restaurants include La Colombe in Cape Town, and The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais in Franschoek. South Africa’s top restaurants definitely put the country on any foodie’s map.

  1. History

Good news for history lovers—South Africa is a historical and cultural hotspot. South Africa boasts plenty of awesome museums and landmarks. Johannesburg offers one of the best cultural tours in the country—it includes visiting Constitutional Hill, exploring the Apartheid Museum, and touring Soweto. If you’re planning a trip to the Cape, a visit to Robben Island will definitely be in order. You can walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and contemplate all of his contributions to this beautiful country.

  1. Hiking and Walking trails

If you love hiking, South Africa’s most famous hiking trail, the Otter Trail, along the Wild Coast is a definite must! The Drakensburg is another pristine piece of South Africa that hikers will adore.

  1. Golf Courses

South Africa is home to many world renowned golf courses which can be found in the most astounding destinations. You can visit the Gary Player Golf course at Sun City which is only a two hour drive from Johannesburg. If you have planned a safari trip to the Kruger National park, you can also enjoy the Leopard’s Creek golf course.

  1. Adventures

Adrenaline junkies, rejoice! South Africa is certainly the place to be if you have a taste for adventure. You will find the world’s highest and most extraordinary bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge. It is a 216 metre drop which will definitely get your heart pumping! You can also tour the Wilderness coastline by paragliding 100 metres above the sea or explore some of our exquisite rivers on foot. When it comes to adventures, South Africa truly has it all.

If these are not reason enough and you need more inspiration on why to visit our beautiful country – please do let us know and we will be more than happy to provide it!

Month on Instagram

Just in case you need some inspiration to pack your bags for another unforgettable African adventure, we’ve put together some of our top pics from this month here. From encounters with Gorillas, to hot air balloon rides, to migration river crossings, to magical Marataba visits and so much more… April has certainly been full of adventures! #luxury #bigfive #Africa #safari

 

 

 

 

Property of the Month – Londolozi

Iconic Africa’s relationship dates back decades with the Varty family and Londolozi. After so many years of support and so many happy memories there, we are proud to feature Londolozi as our property of the month.

Terri not only has been going there for the last twenty years but she even got engaged there and John had two very memorable years there as a game ranger. Not to mention the fact that it was on one such unforgettable Londolozi safari that John drove Terri and her family and, through their mutual love and knowledge of Africa, they conceptualised Iconic Africa.

We’d like to highlight and showcase the special place Londolozi has in our hearts so that hopefully one day it will have one in yours too.

Watch the video below to get a feel for the absolute magic that awaits you at Londolozi.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Londolozi Tree Camp Deck Iconic Africa Safaris

These are Einstein’s words. In Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards 2014, Londolozi was named the best hotel in the world! A global honour of colossal proportions. Londolozi effortlessly exceeds all expectations on a luxury, hospitality, wilderness and experiential front – however when anyone who knows Londolozi well, is tasked with describing this African wonder they are immediately confronted by the difficulty of portraying the intangible. It is this indiscernible x factor, which sets Londolozi aside from the rest!

Let us put the necessary emphasis on those last three words of the aforementioned award:

In. The. World.

Falling under the awards was another category – Top 20 Safari Lodges & Camps in Africa – and, as can be expected when you’re the World’s Best Hotel (too much emphasis? – we think not), Londolozi claimed top position. Three of Londolozi’s five lodges, namely Granite, Pioneer and Tree are Relais & Chateaux properties and these lodges are true to the elegance and attention to detail that this world-renowned signature embodies. The remainder of the five, Founders and Varty are not to be overlooked. Varty Camp is adored for its deep history and endearing charm, and Founders is equally deserving of complimentary adjectives: sophisticated, warm and classic. Awards aside – and we’ve only skimmed the surface of the property’s accolades – Londolozi’s reputation continues to soar thanks to the oldest advertising there is: word of mouth. You see, to know Londolozi is to adore Londolozi.

 

The Intangible

There remains that which is difficult to pin down with mere words. But before we address that, let us first touch on the wildlife. To delay it any longer would be to ignore why everyone is drawn to this place and when we say everyone, we meant it; both those who call it home and those who travel across continents to experience Londolozi with their own eyes, their own minds and, of course, their own hearts. It’s mandatory for us to say the Big 5. There it is, we’ve said it. But let’s crack the term open and put a magnifying glass to the one member of the quintet that Londolozi is famed for: Leopards. Anyone who has spent time in the African wilderness – besides Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve – appreciates that Leopards are elusive creatures. Some South Africans visit the bush time and time again and these graceful cats continue to elude them and then one day, let’s call it a Tuesday morning; they get up at sunrise and spot a female Leopard through their binoculars. It’s a brief and distant sighting – just an outline in the approaching day – but it’s enough to put a grin on their face for the rest of the week.

Considering this reality, it seems almost cruel to speak of the intimate leopard sightings at Londolozi. It is common for game drives to spend an hour or two with a leopard and this familiarity extends into every aspect of the cats’ lives: hunts, cubs, mating, territorial spats… When it comes to Londolozi, calling it a Leopard sighting is misleading because the word implies a fleetingness that is just not a factor. Lions too are generous with their presence; loitering in the grass, unfazed by the vehicles they allow to share large chunk of their days whether it be lazing in the grass, chasing a herd of impala through the bushveld or rearing their young. Not to be forgotten, elephants, rhinos and buffalo punctuate game drives through this beautiful reserve.

The origin

And so now, finally, let us turn to the energy that is so difficult to capture. There is no better place to start than with the name: Londolozi. Derived from the Zulu word, “to protect,” John, Dave and Shan Varty took the decision to leave the farm’s history of hunting behind them and build, instead, a sanctuary for all living things. Londolozi’s pioneers did not discard the past, they evolved it and so the charm, stories and character of the property’s previous generations was cherished and passed onto their own children.

Generations of striving for perfection

Here exists one of the pillars that defines Londolozi: it is family run. Blood is not the only determining factor of that family, it branches into friendships that were forged on the land and reaches back into eight decades, encircling those that are no longer physically present yet remain nonetheless.

We read somewhere that thoughts are infinite. That once formed they travel into space and time, never ceasing to exist. If this assertion is true, it can be used to explain Londolozi’s energy: Running back five generations are men and women who considered the land sacred, who sat together, after another perfect day in Africa, around an open fire with the people they loved most and ate and drank and told each other stories – sometimes the same one for the tenth time – and these moments gave birth to a plethora of happy thoughts and sentiments. The thoughts of Londolozi’s yesteryears are still felt today and they are affirmed by everyone who lives and visits the property in recent years. Ask any ex-ranger what the best time in his life has been and his answer will almost always be, “my years at Londolozi.

Belong

The same is true for guests. Londolozi continually shakes off other destinations to earn a position as their favourite. When everyone is, literally, having the time of their lives, the air cannot help absorb some of that liveliness. And that in itself, is the reason why you will feel, on arrival, that you instantly belong.

Londolozi Tree Camp Iconic Africa Luxury Safaris

Londolozi is a feeling! Of course, Londolozi’s absolute luxury goes without saying, however if you are to understand this incredible place and it’s feeling, you have to visit and experience it for yourself!

Graham Wood Leopard Londolozi

If you’d like to come and see for yourself we promise you won’t be disappointed. Contact us now and we will craft a once-in-a-lifetime Londolozi safari for you! BUT heed our warning, book months and months (a full year or more to be on the safe side) in advance! Getting in isn’t easy!

To read out five favorite blog posts from the Londolozi blog click here.

 

 

 

 

Interview with James Hendry, Safari Guide

Hopefully you have seen and enjoyed at least one episode of our epic Iconic Africa Bush Diaries series. If you have, we thought you might be interested to find out a little more about the man behind the lens; old friend, talented Safarilive filmmaker and brilliant photographer, James Hendry. We had a chat to James to find out a little more about life in the African bushveld. Here’s what he had to say:

How long have you been a safari guide for? I started in 2000. I have been in the bush on an off for the last 17 years.

What made you want to become one? I just always wanted to live in a beautiful place with wilderness at my back door. 

Where is the best place you have worked? This is impossible to answer because there have been too many great experiences – I suppose Ngala, where I cut my teeth, will always hold a very special place in my heart. It’s where I first immersed in the wilderness.

What do you love most about working in the African bush everyday? The peace – sounds, smells and sunsets and sunrises.

What is the most amazing sighting you’ve had? Again far too many to pick one – I would say a recent experience with wild dogs on foot…a pack of 12 came to within 2 metres of me. They knew I was there. The adults wandered straight past but the pups stopped, sniffed at us – they were not threatened by us and nor were they aggressive. It was one of the closest touches of the wilderness I’ve ever had.

Tell us about a time when you were nervous in the bush? When I started training, I had to do ten days of unarmed walking – I had no experience in the bush and I walked Ngala seeing buffalo, elephant, rhino and lots of other animals. I was utterly terrified for the first half – until I came to see that we, human beings, are the most feared animal in the wild and that if I was respectful to the creatures I encountered, they would leave me alone.

What is your favourite animal? Wild dogs.

What do you love most about Safarilive? Sharing the wilderness with people from all over the world – many of whom will never be able to come to Africa. I hope that our daily safaris will inspire people to conserve the natural world wherever they are.

When is your favourite time of year in the Kruger? The first rains and the expectant time leading up to them. Springtime, when the trees flush, the grasses turn the land green and the flowers splash the wild with colour.

If you could give travellers one reason why they have to visit Africa in their lifetime what would it be? Africa is where we as humans began. I promise that coming to Africa will make you feel like you’ve come home.

Iconic Africa Bush Diaries #13

Presenting Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #13 “The End of Summer,” filmed by James Hendry.

Watch as the zebras graze, the lion cubs romp, the elephants browse, the leopards survey the land and the hyenas nurture and cuddle their cubs. Let this clip wash over you with the passion, beauty and magic that is the African bushveld! May it brighten your day wherever in the world it finds you.

Just in case you last months video, click here for Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #12 “Water Comes to the Kruger,” filmed by old friend, talented filmmaker and intrepid game ranger, James Hendry.

Watch as the impalas graze, the elephants bathe and dunk in the river, the leopards groom, the cheetahs stalk their prey and so much as the Kruger comes to life with the much-needed rains.

Click here to learn more about James Hendry the safari guide in our interview with him.

The Big Five, the Small Five & the High Five

By Recent Traveller, Mike Little.

When you go to the bush you will most likely have your attention drawn immediately to the Big Five. For the uninitiated, they are the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. What many people do not know is that there also exists a ‘Little Five’; they are far less famous and actually, far harder to spot. Again, for the uninformed, they are the ant lion, leopard tortoise, elephant shrew, rhino beetle, and buffalo weaver. In fact, one could make up lists all day of what to try and see, and the six of us who were assigned to our safari vehicle at Ngala Safari Lodge all had our own preconceived ideas about what we would see, and more importantly, what we hoped to see.

Lists can be a great way of getting people who know little about the bush to learn a few things pre-departure, and it is a great way to include children on the adventure and keep them enthusiastic and upbeat. It is completely natural to have a bucket list when going to Paris, London, or Rome. A grocery list when visiting the shops. A hit list of songs you want played at your wedding. They are necessary items for “survival” in a modern world that has us communicating non-stop over multiple methods of social media… but they do have a downside. You can potentially find yourself never truly seeing what is not on the “super- important” list. The list can become such a focus that you forget what you are actually out there to do: namely, enjoy being in Mother Nature and soaking up all that it has to show you.

In my recent, brief outing to the bush I often found myself staring into the distance at an enormous cloud billowing up into the atmosphere and wondering ‘Why aren’t we stopping to look at that?’ The same could be said for a 15-foot high termite mound, or a fig tree born before Shakespeare. I think there is a simple reason we have found ourselves in this dilemma: we create imaginary scenarios of what would bring us joy and we try our best to fulfil them. Unfortunately when we do this we bypass the true magic of adventuring in the bush: namely, that around every corner, you may stumble across almost anything, including the Big Five.

Thankfully, at Ngala Safari Lodge, we had a great guide whose plan – as he thankfully reminded us each day – was to ‘bumble along, and see what we come across’. We could not have said it any better; our safari could not have been any better!

 

The Big Five was a formality (I think we saw them all within 24 hours) but the real treat was seeing the unpredictable – things we had no intention of seeing – and therefore no preconceived notions and expectations upon them. We may not have seen the Little Five (2/5 if I remember correctly) but we saw many other “fives” which more than made up for it. One, a Scops Owl at night, sitting aimlessly beside the road. Two, the Red-crested Korhaan doing its mating, mock-suicide dive-bomb. Three, dung beetles at war. Four, the foam-nest frog. Five, the dwarf mongoose escaping into his hole. Six, the jackal. Seven… I could go on and on.

The bush is alive with possibility and randomness. If only you will let it be. So, the next time you set out from the drudgery of the city to ‘do a safari and see the Big Five’ consider being open to anything happening. In fact, it is perhaps the greatest contrast from city life you can experience. And that, along with a customary G&T at sunset, warrants the last ingredient for success in the bush: an all-important ‘High Five’ with a friend.